TGI Friday: “She ain’t missing… she’s dead.”

“Folks go missing ’round here, they’re gone for good…” One of the winning elements of the last Friday the 13th movie (SIX YEARS AGO – SORT THAT SHIT OUT!), the cranky old lady whom Jared Padalecki calls upon when looking for his missing sister. That notion that the Crystal Lake locals know about Jason is the kind of vibe I hope returns whenever they decide they want to do another film, or TV series.

Cranky old lady, we love you.

Sucks to be Soles

INNOCENT PREY

3 Stars  1983/87m

A.k.a. Voyeur

Director: Colin Eggleston / Writer: Ron McLean / Cast: P.J. Soles, Kit Taylor, Grigor Taylor, Martin Balsam, John Warnock, Susan Stenmark, Richard Morgan, Debisue Voorhees.

Body Count: 11


Poor P.J. Soles… As if being saddled with the worst perm in Texas isn’t enough, one night she spots her new husband’s car at a motel and decides to creep outside the window and find out if he’s cheating on her.

Her suspicions are confirmed when she sees him doing a young hooker, and then made worse when he produces a knife and slashes the girl’s throat as they climax. At home, she confronts him and as he makes a move to do away with her, the police spring up and cart him away.

Later, hubby escapes from prison and returns to the house to finish off P.J., doing in a few luckless cops as he goes. She evades him again but this time he flees, so she sees fit to take some time out down under and visits her friend Gwen in Sydney.

The Sheriff back home (Balsam: Arbogast! ARBO-FUCKING-GAST!!!) later informs her they found a burned body with hubby’s signet ring and all is well again. Only we know better: hubby set it all up and has hopped a ship to Oz, ever committed to his cause.

Rodeo P.J. – everybody loves her

As if this isn’t enough, the sub-Norman Bates landlord at Gwen’s place has hidden cameras all over the girls’ house and watches their every move, obsessed by the new arrival, and jealous of her burgeoning romance with single dad, Rick. When the first loon arrives, what will second loon do, I wonder?

Early on in the film, P.J. ponders that if there such a thing as a habitual criminal, perhaps she is a habitual victim. Hell yeah, sister! From the arms of one psycho into those of another! Innocent Prey should be suffixed The Misadventures of the World’s Unluckiest Woman. Nothing goes right for poor P.J., and when Gwen disappears, well, where else could she go!? These wackos gravitate towards her. And just wait for that final freeze frame. Come to my house, Peej, I won’t kill you! Promise!

Mass sludge of conveniences aside, Innocent Prey is a solid little thriller, sort of a proto-Sleeping with the Enemy by way of Terror Train, possibly explaining why it was released in 1991, seven or eight years after it was made.

P.J.’s always likeable charisma carries much of the weight, but director Eggleston – who later helmed weird arty-farty slasher Cassandra - builds up some palpable tension here and there, most notably in the scenes where Hubby comes back to the house.

A ridiculous film by any measure, but an entertaining one for sure.

Blurbs-of-interest: Aside from her role as Lynda, Soles was also in The Tooth Fairy and Uncle Sam. She also narrated the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror; Martin Balsam was, duh, Arbogast in Psycho; Kit Taylor was in Eggleston’s other film Cassandra; Debi Sue Voorhees – playing the hooker – was Tina in Friday the 13th Part V and was also in Appointment with Fear.

Pepsi will save the day!

THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE

2.5 Stars  1990/76m

Director: Tom Logan / Writer: Bruce Carson / Cast: Kerry Knight, Joe Fishback, Aimie Tenalia, Monica Simmons, Chuck Whiting, David Carr, Moire Reagan.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “We were together in Saigon and I was the one who tried to piece him together after the chainsaw accident…”


Laughable but likeable Orlando-shot throwback, The Night Brings Charlie orbits around your common-or-garden small town – Pakoe – and the series of decapitation murders plaguing it. The new Sheriff (Knight) has no clue, and the M.E.’s dim-witted daughter Jenny seems to keep finding herself embroiled in it.

The sack-hooded, goggle-wearing killer stalks the town after dark, collecting the heads of nubile teens, unless they are protected by the magic of Pepsi. That’s right, a big-boobed girl taking a shower is about to lose her noggin when the can of Diet Pepsi she has falls into the tub and seemingly scares off the killer! Also check the number of times said soft drink’s logo appears in the background.

Playing out like a gored-up episode of Murder, She Wrote, there’s not much going on in the film: The dopey Sheriff figures things out while Jenny’s overprotective Dad worries, and eponymous suspect Charlie, the deformed local tree-trimmer whose chosen uniform happens to be an exact match for the killer’s, is hauled in for questioning… A mid-point “twist” is revealed with all the acting muscle of a dead jellyfish: The murderer confesses as if his crime is as serious as an unpaid parking ticket. I almost expected Angela Lansbury to appear and shake her head disapprovingly. At the performance if not the crime.

A few more schmucks die as Jenny takes on a dare to sneak into the barn where Charlie lives. Clearly too dense to bail when her friends don’t show up, instead of going home, Jenny goes to the barn anyway and comes faces to face with the killer. Showdown, chainsaw, various other farm implements (but surprisingly no cans of Pepsi to throw at the encroaching killer), open ending. Done.

In reality, The Night Brings Charlie sucks, but I was strangely fond of its 80s/90s-cusp colour scheme, the constant lullaby of cicadas, and an unconscious thirst for Pepsi. The Sheriff’s sarcastic receptionist provides a few snarky one-liners too. It’s about as memorable as a night in a Travelodge, but, equally, does its job adequately enough.

Lies! So many lies!

NIGHT OF THE DRIBBLER

1 Stars  1990/88m

Director: Jack Bravman / Writer: Maurice Thevenet / Cast: Fred Travalena, Gregory Calpakis, Flavia Carrozzi, Bill Saddler, Cynthia Mantel, Michael Sullivan, Glenn Scott, Brigitte-Anne Pelletier, Georges Thomas.

Body Count: 2

Laughter Lines:  “Last time I saw faces like that was on the court 51 seconds ago.”


About as misleading as anything could be, this Canadian ‘comedy’ may look like it’s about a masked loon doing in basketball players, but this takes up about 8% of the runtime. There’s a reason the film was not released in the US for almost twenty years.

Essentially a vehicle for late comedian Fred Travalena, he plays three roles: The basketball coach, a commentator named Dick Airhead, and the detective investigating attacks on the revolving captains of the Watergate High Plumbers – only two of which are fatal – a crappy team who haven’t won a game in decades.

Waterboy Stan wants a chance to play – is he the one is the basketball mask rigging equipment? Probably not. But who cares when the film is so exhaustively painful? Slasher parodies were already worn out by 1982 and Night of the Dribbler brings nothing to the table, earning that extra half-star for non-awful production values and maybe two jokes I quietly smirked at.

Fri-gay the 13th

Look closer… it’s a book, not a movie. Sad times indeed.

Summer camp slashings ensue as they have many, many times before… but never (as far as I know) at one of those ‘Corrective’ camps for gay teens, though there were a few in The Blood Season.

In Camp Carnage, Billy, an introverted suburbanite, is packed off to Camp Genesis by his parents after coming out to them in the summer of 1986. Run by Joan Ferguson-a-like Katherine Creevey, the boys are packed in together and mentored by a kindly priest and ex-gay counsellors.

Typical 80s hi-jinks follow with the usual heterosexual pairings reversed: Billy likes Neal, but so does Kyle. Jem likes Michaela, Michaela strives to remain straight etc… Meanwhile, those who venture into the woods (stray from the path of heterosexuality, as it were) soon meet nasty ends at the hands of a mystery killer.

A fluid read, I zipped through Camp Carnage over a few lunch breaks and, while the blades n’ whodunit subplotting was decent, the book shied away from commenting overtly on the operations of such an establishment, thus I didn’t root for the characters as much as I wanted.

Writers Cross and Winning twist the expected outcome in regards to the last ones standing, which is always brave, although in this case I’d have preferred them not to.

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